How will the election change Berlin?
The people of Berlin punished the Socialist-conservative coalition in state elections on Sunday. The SPD was the strongest party but suffered major losses and now needs two partners to continue governing. The national-conservative AfD entered the Berlin parliament with just over 14 percent of the vote. Journalists discuss what the election means for the party landscape - and German democracy.
Parties becoming more distinguishable
With six parties gaining seats in parliament it will be more diverse, and this could be good news for democracy, Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:
“Democracy needs to restore its credibility in these globalised times. It must reaffirm its core principles: democracy needs to be learned, again and again. … The AfD's success is a wake up call telling us that we should not take it for granted that our society is and will remain liberal. Nor can it be taken for granted the minorities (and not just refugees) are respected and continue to be respected. … This may be the start of a process in which the parties make their programmes more concrete, hence becoming more distinguishable from each other once more. The SPD will become more social democratic and the CDU will become more Christian democratic. This doesn't have to hurt democracy.”
Centre collapsing in Berlin
It seems likely that a triple-coalition government will take over in Berlin, which carries the risk of the political centre being further weakened, the Tages-Anzeiger observes:
“There have been triple coalitions in the past. What's new is that nowadays they are often simply alliances of convenience for the purpose of gaining power. ... There is no evidence of a common political basis. These coalitions born of necessity may form a majority, but they do not constitute a political centre. Anti-system parties from the right and left have an easy time denouncing them as 'cartels of the established parties'. This creates a dynamic that weakens the political centre and strengthens the extremes. The former major parties are for the most part helpless in the face of this trend. They need to be more pragmatic while at the same time stressing the values that make them unique. The quicker they adapt to the new reality, the better.”